COUNCILLOR Peter Steen listened to complaints about rubbish collection -- then went out on the bin wagon to see for himself.

The chairman of Rossendale Council's direct works and services committee went with the refuse wagon to the back of Blackburn Road, Haslingden, following complaints by local resident Brian Bangay that bags had been left so long they had attracted rats.

Coun Steen, who also visited Mr Bangay last weekend, said the solution was simple and that Mr Bangay should leave his bin bags at a collection point at the front of the property and not on the back street where the new refuse wagons could not gain access. The arrangement for everyone in the block of properties, with the exception of the elderly couple living next door to Mr Bangay's home who were exempt because of invalidity, was to leave their bin bags in front of the properties.

He said: "In the case of the elderly couple, the refuse vehicles stop in West View at the junction with back Blackburn Road and one of the lads jumps off and picks up their bags.

"The wagon can't get down the back street because of the big drop at the junction.

"We tried this morning and it just bottomed out. If they carried on it would just take the bottom out of the vehicle."

He said that following complaints that 20 bags had accumulated in the back street, a smaller vehicle was sent to take away the rubbish.

Mr Steen said: "I have already spoken to Mr Bangay about the situation and told him he will have to leave his bags in Blackburn Road.

"Now all the residents will be sent a letter spelling out the position."

Kenneth Peel, who lives next door to Mr Bangay said: "I have lived here for 40 years and the council wagon always came down to collect the rubbish until last June.

"Then I was told to tell my neighbours to leave their rubbish on the back street for collection. But the bags were left for five weeks until we had a problem with rats."

Mr Bangay, deputy head of Manchester Hospital schools service, said the situation had arisen because he had not been told he needed to put the bags at the front.

He said: "I have paced it out and it is 75 yards from my back door to the collection point. If I am told that is where the rubbish has to be left, that is it.

"In six months they had not told us what the problem was. I shall now probably take the rubbish to the dump myself even though it is a mile away."